Opioid Prescriptions Declined in 2017

As of earlier this month, 1,076 people in New Jersey had died from a drug overdose since the start of 2018. Statistics like these continue to paint a grim picture of the opioid epidemic in the state and throughout the nation.

However, signs of progress in this fight are beginning to show.

A recent study released by IQVIA showed that the volume of opioids prescribed declined significantly last year.

In 2017, prescriptions decreased by 10.2 percent, accelerating the continued drop in prescriptions that has occurred since 2011, when the amount of opioids prescribed peaked at 240 billion milligrams of morphine equivalents (MME).

High doses of opioids, defined as 90 MME or more per day, fell by 16.1 percent last year, according to the study.

Perhaps most encouraging was that the number of patients starting opioid therapy who had no previous experience with opioids during the prior year fell by 7.8 percent. This statistic shows that many fewer people than in previous years were introduced or reintroduced to the risks of opioids.

As we celebrate National Prevention Week, it is encouraging to see positive developments in this aspect of prevention.

Meanwhile, the number of people beginning medically assisted treatment (MAT) nearly doubled from 44,000 per month at the end of 2015 to 82,000 per month at the conclusion of 2017.

This combination of statistics indicates that progress is being made in the opioid epidemic as fewer Americans are being introduced to potentially dangerous opioid prescriptions, while more are receiving treatment for their addiction.

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